Many Costa Ricans are avid sports fans of activities ranging from motocross to swimming. But undoubtedly the sport of choice throughout the country is soccer! From the local tournaments where fans vehemently support their team of choice (Saprissa, La Liga, Heredia, etc.), to the championship games of the World Cup, Costa Rica’s all star team (dubbed “La Sele”) has played in this international soccer cup several times, and there’s usually a public presentation where hoards of aficionados take to the streets in celebration or sometimes even defeat. The nation’s soccer team has been a big source of pride throughout the years, but it has also been the cause of great discord among fanatics during their not so stellar moments. Both reactions are a result of the immense passion that Ticos feel for their country and their teams. Aside from official games, you can always see groups of people playing a “mejenga”, which is a casual tournament between friends, co-workers, etc., where the usual soccer rules do not necessarily apply (it is just for fun). There is also the popular “papifutbol”, or indoor soccer, which is played in a small court with only five players on each team, and where the regulations vary from those of regular soccer.
Some noted athletes that have given Costa Rica a good name in the sports arenas of the world are the Poll sisters in swimming (Silvia won silver in the Seoul’88 Olympics, and Claudia, the younger, won Olympic gold during the Atlanta games of ’96, and two bronze medals in Sydney ‘00), and Ernesto “Lobito” Fonseca in motocross and ATV racing, who has won international championships. Besides these activities, you will also find baseball, basketball, and volleyball teams, among others. There are also annual marathons, bike races, auto races at “La Guacima”, boxing, bowling competitions, tennis championships (the most popular is “La Copa del Cafe” in January), surfing tournaments, and karate, tae kwon do, and other martial arts competitions. There is a mountain bike race here called “La Ruta de los Conquistadores” which covers 400 kilometers (249 miles) of varied micro climates and incredible views of Costa Rica over a period of three days, and is considered by many to be that hardest in the world; it is a qualifier event for the World Solo Championships.
For tourists, Costa Rica is a well known destination for adventure Costa Rica sports and activities. There are so many sports that can be practiced here that visitors will have no problem incorporating an active itinerary into their vacation plans. Ranging from extreme sports like bungee jumping, white water rafting, and the ever popular surfing, to a relaxing game of golf on a championship level course, to competitions like marathons or bike races, there is plenty for energetic people to do. Costa Rica is known worldwide for its great surfing on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. You can also practice some great boogie boarding, windsurfing, water skiing, and other fun water sports like kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving. And of course, we can’t forget about sport fishing and the wide variety of swimmers that can be reeled in by experienced or novice anglers. Hiking and mountain climbing can be practiced amidst beautiful settings with breathtaking panoramas. Mountain biking is another great option to enjoy nature while you get an exhilarating workout. As you can see, Costa Rica is a great place to sit back and enjoy a spectator sport, and also to join in the fun by practicing an athletic activity yourself!